June 21, 2024

Alleged N1.2m US visa scam: American businessman knows fate Sept. 10

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Alleged N1.2m US visa scam: American businessman knows fate Sept. 10

Justice Mojisola Dada of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, on Wednesday, May 22, 2024, adjourned till September 10, 2024 judgement in the alleged $1.2 million US visa scam involving an American businessman, Marco Antonio Ramirez.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is prosecuting Ramirez alongside his companies, USA NOW LLC, Eagle Ford Instalodge Group LP and USA Now Energy Capital Group LP, for an alleged $1.2 million EB-5 visa scam.

The defendant allegedly obtained the money from his victims as processing fees for their investments in his company, USA Now Energy Capital Group LP, in the Employment-Based Fifth Preference (EB-5) United States of America Investor Programme, which would qualify them to be eligible for the issuance of USA Green Card.

The defendant, however, allegedly reneged on his promise.

Ramirez was initially arraigned on a 12-count charge, to which he pleaded “not guilty”.

He was also re-arraigned by the EFCC on June 24, 2022, on an amended 16-count charge.

Count 13 of the amended charge read: “Marco Antonio Ramirez, USA NOW LLC, Eagle Ford Instalodge Group LP, and USA Now Energy Capital Group LP, between 5th February 2013 and 18th April 2013 at Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, dishonourably converted to your personal use the aggregate sum of $545,000 property of Godson Onyemaechi Echegile.”

Count 14 read: “Marco Antonio Ramirez, USA NOW LLC, and USA Now Energy Capital Group LP, between 12th July 2012 and 7th November 2012 at Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, dishonourably converted to your personal use the aggregate sum of $314,800 property of Abubakar Umar Sadiq.”

Count 15 read: “Marco Antonio Ramirez, USA NOW LLC, and USA Now Energy Capital Group LP, between 19th February 2013 and 18th April 2013 at Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, dishonourably converted to your personal use the aggregate sum of $230,000 property of Abubakar Umar Sadiq.”

Also, at Monday’s sitting, the trial Judge adjourned till September 10, 2024, for judgment in a separate amended nine-count charge bordering on an alleged $368,698.24 fraud brought against the defendant.

One of the counts reads: “Marco Antonio Ramirez, USA NOW LLC, and USA Now Energy Capital Group LP, on or about the 26th day of July, 2013 at Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud, obtained the sum of  $250,000 from Gabriel Ogie Edeoghon under the false representation that the sum was his investment in your company: USA NOW Energy Capital Group LP in the Employment-Based Fifth Preference (EB-5) United States of America Investor Programme, which investment would qualify him to be eligible to a USA Green Card, and which representation you knew to be false.”

Another count reads: “Marco Antonio Ramirez, on or about the 5th day of March 2014 at Lagos, within the Jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud, obtained the sum of $50,281.33 from Oludare Talabi, under the false representation that the said sum is to procure United States of America L1 VISA programme for him, which representation you knew to be false.”

He also pleaded “not guilty” to the charges when they were read to him.

The proceedings had suffered several adjournments occasioned by the absence of the defence counsel, Lawal Pedro, SAN, and the inability of the defence to file its own final written addresses, even after the prosecution counsel, M.S. Owede and S.O. Daji, had filed theirs for the separate charges, respectively.

However, the adoption of the final written addresses, was eventually held on May 8, 2024.

Following the adoption, Justice Dada, on Wednesday, adjourned till September 10, 2024, for judgment.

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